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1948

first Annual Dinner, AUGUST 27

Lakeview house, henderson harbor

Skipper Barnes dinner Speech

First Annual HHYC Dinner Meeting, August 27, 1948

Lakeview House, Henderson Harbor

Skipper Barnes


The Chairman of the Entertainment Committee has asked me to say something about the object of this dinner tonight. In my opinion, the Chairman was ill advised, as you will no doubt shortly realize.

Probably you have heard of the speaker at the dinner during which he lost the manuscript of his prepared address. When he got up to speak he said: "When I came into this room only God and I knew what I was going to say." Now God only knows.

However, I know that I am going to say this - that this dinner is in the nature of a celebration. We celebrate an achievement accomplished to an extent and in a short time deemed beyond our fondest hopes at the time of our first meeting held at the Seymour Cottage less than one year ago.

It is difficult for me to trace the development of yachting at Henderson Harbor during the past forty years without indulging in a few personal reminiscences, for which I hope you will pardon me. Forty-one years ago this month my good wife and I, accompanied by another couple, set sail from Selkirk at the mouth of the Salmon River, on a voyage of discovery, in an 18 ft. open Gloucester fisherman's dory, with a home-made jib and mainsail rig, and complete with camping equipment. We spent the first night on the west bank of Stony Creek and were nearly eaten up by mosquitoes. Next day we boldly rounded Stony Point and went ashore just across the isthmus at the head of Snowshoe Bay.

1904 photo of Skipper Barnes, courtesy of Bruce Taylor

We dragged the boat through what is now the cut in a heavy rainstorm and laid a course to what later developed to be Warners, where our good friend Mrs. William Blackwood Smith of Syracuse took the girls to her room for drying out and freshening up. We then proceeded on our way, finally docking at Tyler's, where we proudly proclaimed the discovery of Henderson Harbor. Tyler's and Henderson Harbor were synonymous names to us. Through the introduction by a friend, we were hospitably received at Tyler's and spent the night there.

I shall never forget our first impressions. A more beautiful bay we had never seen. The sheltered waters, the quiet countryside, the quaint village, truly the nearest thing to a seafaring community, with its near full complement of retired sea captains, this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Guides were then known as oarsmen and they sailed their skiffs far out to sea.

It would be an impertinence for me, in the presence of Mr.Tyler, to pose as the historian of Henderson Harbor and I therefore hope that someday soon he can be prevailed upon to tell us something of its earlier history.

An ambition to become a summer resident was realized a few years later and it was a happy day for the family when we sailed in a larger boat and anchored off Tyler's. There was little yachting activity at that time, except for skiff sailing and the visits of cruising yachts, but in 1926 the Crescent Yacht Club invited the Lake Yacht Racing Association to hold its annual regatta at Henderson Harbor. This invitation was accepted, and the regatta turned out to be a grand success. Through the efforts of one of our yachtsmen, the General Electric Company kindly placed all the facilities of Association Island at the disposal of the regatta committee. Dinners, dances, teas, band concerts, etc., were most efficiently managed by Frank Wiggins, long remembered as an ideal host. (Due largely to the success of this event, the L.Y.R.A. again came to Henderson four years later)

At about that time there was a considerable fleet of Ackroyd dinghies, built in Toronto, at the Crescent Yacht Club and I believe that one of this fleet had been purchased by Eleanor Dulles and sailed at Henderson Harbor. John Barnes also purchased a dinghy direct from Ackroyd, which he, together with Westcott Barber, sailed from Kingston to Chaumont in a fresh northwest wind, thus demonstrating the sea-worthiness of this small craft.

By 1930 sufficient interest was aroused at the Harbor in sailing and a yacht club was formed and some eight Ackroyd dinghies constituted the fleet. Trophy cups were given by Russell Dunmore, John Marcellus, Julien Barrett, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Hammond and a juvenile secret society known as the A.0.E.G. Home and home sailing regattas were held with Crescent, Cazenovia, Cooperstown and Oswego Yacht Clubs and, at the end of the season, representatives met with those of these clubs and those of Syracuse, Auburn, Geneva, Skaneateles and Ithaca, resulting in the formation of the Central New York Racing Association, which has flourished ever since.

The Crescent Yacht Club again invited L.Y.R.A. to hold its regatta at Henderson Harbor in 1931. Our club took an active part in arranging for the regatta. The local community subscribed generously toward the cost and, due to the carefully laid plans of a committee appointed for the purpose, the Lighthouse Board was induced to establish the present gas buoy on Lime Barrel Shoal.

Our local yacht club carried on successfully for two or three years more, when most of the members could no longer spend sufficient time to properly maintain the required activities.

Last summer considerable interest was aroused in the possibilities of a yacht club at Henderson Harbor. This interest and the resultant activities were mostly on the part of the women of the community. The main idea seemed to be to interest the young people in sailing small boats, getting to know each other better and in giving them more of an interest in Henderson Harbor than they otherwise would have. Thus Henderson Harbor would again come into its own and its rightful position in the minds of the younger generation - a position still very dear in the minds of the oldsters.

A second meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson, September 27th, 1947, for organization and incorporation. About 18 people attended. History was made at that meeting. It is difficult for me to believe in second sight, crystal gazing, psychic bids in bridge and prophetic dreams. I only have bad dreams and don't know a psychic bid when I hear one - but it is different with the women. They have something which a man will never understand - it is known as intuition, whatever that is. In any event, they know what they want, they are usually right in wanting it, and they usually get it. They wanted Heinie Rouse for Commodore and they got him - God bless the day.

Well, you mostly all know the rest of the story - how the Rouses, both of them, have unselfishly and unceasingly worked night and day toward achieving their ambition to see our bay dotted with small sail boats manned by eager, young people, with a social center to return to, talk over the races, plan other activities and dry their clothes. The Rouses saw all this in their minds. They saw further - swimming lessons, sailing lessons and, last but not least, a better community and social interest on the part of the older generation. Never once has their interest waned or their activities lessened. Through the generous and enthusiastic cooperation of Bert Tyler, without whom we would still be adrift, it has been possible to go a long way in a short time. The popular interest is tremendous. It transcends our fondest hopes. The future is bright.

Here's a toast to our good friends and our neighbors, Commodore and Mrs. Rouse. May they live long and, with our hearty support, achieve for us their most laudable ambition.


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Henderson Harbor Yacht Club is a 501(c)(7) non-profit organization. 8397 Cornell Road, Henderson Harbor, NY 13651

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